EU foreign ministers call for meeting with Israel to discuss Gaza conflict

The European Union is calling for an association council meeting with Israel to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said after a meeting with foreign affairs ministers.

Mnisters agreed to call a meeting with Israel, to ask the country to explain its actions in its Rafah offensive despite a UN court ruling. "We got the necessary unanimity to call for an association council with Israel to discuss the situation in Gaza," said Borrell. The meeting would be held under an association agreement with the EU. Spain and Ireland have called on the EU to review the agreement over Israel's Gaza offensive.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ordered Israel late last week to immediately stop the military offensive in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. "What we have seen since then, however, is an increase in bombings and civilian casualties," said Borrell, referring to the deadly Israeli attacks on a refugee camp in Rafah on the night of Sunday to Monday.

Crossing point

Borrell pointed out that the radical Palestinian organisation Hamas is also flouting the court's ruling. He stressed that the ICJ is the highest court of the United Nations and that all UN member states must implement the rulings. That is also what EU’s foreign ministers expect from Israel, he said. In addition, the ministers demand that Israel stop financially draining the Palestinian Authority and that the UN agency UNRWA not be declared a terrorist organisation.

Borrell also received approval from member states to prepare a reactivation of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to the Rafah Crossing Point (EUBAM Rafah). Through EUBAM Rafah, the EU helped control people and goods at the crossing point between Gaza and Egypt, but the mission was suspended in 2007. The crossing point, vital for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Gaza, is closed due to the Israeli offensive.

Several countries, including Israel, had called for a resumption of EUBAM. Borrell said the mission could only be resumed once political conditions are met and security conditions in the region have changed dramatically. "We are not going to do that on our own. We are not a security firm,” he said.


EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell © PHOTO FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS / AFP

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